Rhode Island has temporarily banned flavored nicotine cartridges used in vaping as the country deals with an epidemic of people suffering severe lung diseases after using such products, Providence’s WJAR-TV reports.
For years, nicotine users and, in some cases, marijuana users, have been taking advatage of a process called “vaping” — that is, using a machine, sometimes called an E-cigarette, that heats an oil into a vapor and that is inhaled by the user. In the case of nicotine, some manufacturers offer nicotine oils that are flavored with such tastes as bubble gum and watermelon. Health advocates fear that these flavored products attract children and teens, who then may get hooked on nicotine while possibly turning to actual tobacco cigarettes at some point.
Nicole Alexander-Scott, Director of Rhode Island’s Department of Health, said in a statement that Rhode Island is banning the sale of flavored vaping products, until further notice and in order to protect young people.
“We understand sales and businesses wanting to stay afloat. Our focus here is protecting youth. E-cigarette use among youth is an epidemic in Rhode Island and across the nation,” she said.
In Rhode Island, approximately 1,400 to 1,600 businesses are licensed to sell vaping products. Of those, about 400 only sell vaping products. Those businesses have all received letters stating that the flavored products will need to go.
As of 10/1, a total of 1,080 confirmed & probable cases of lung injury associated w. e-cigarette use/ vaping were reported from 48 states & one U.S. territory. 18 deaths were confirmed from 15 states. See latest findings from the ongoing investigation: https://t.co/ymHdKX957b pic.twitter.com/Lp5TZPsbBd
— Dr. Robert R. Redfield (@CDCDirector) October 4, 2019
The new regulations do not apply to the sale of vaping products related to medical marijuana, a substance that is legal in Rhode Island.
The temporary ban is scheduled to last 120 days, and at the end of that time period, can be extended for another 60 or more days.
Meanwhile, the entire country is in the grips of an epidemic as people are coming down with severe lung illnesses — in some cases even dying — after having used vaping products. Some vaping illnesses, and at least one death, have been tied to vaping oil containing THC, the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana. The rest have been tied to vaping nicotine.
Dr. Barry Shea, director of the Interstitial Lung Disease Center at Rhode Island Hospital, explains that health officials are still not sure what is causing the vaping-related illnesses.
“There’s been no common denominator in all the cases of vaping-related illness so far where we can point to one particular product or one particular additive. But it does certainly seem to be something in the e-cigarette liquid that people are vaping that’s causing injury to the lungs,” he said.
As reported at the time by The Inquisitr, the first reports of people being sickened after vaping began emerging in the U.S. at the beginning of August. Those cases were reported to be among people who live in the area around the eastern edge of the Illinois-Wisconsin border.